We pulled into the parking lot, and I was immediately struck by the cars lining the curb. Every inch of asphalt was taken, in addition to the lined parking spaces. The lower lot was was blocked with orange cones, and the kids and I noticed the abrasive sound of machinery at work near the facility. Some sort of maintenance was taking place. I stuck out in the middle of the lot as I tried to create my own space as others had done.
A lady signaled to me from her car that she was leaving, and I watched as she backed out of her own impromptu space, a bigger home for a car than the one I had just created. I slid in next to the grassy curb, and Caleb immediately unbuckled and walked down to the front of the van. I came around to the kids’ side, washcloth in hand, ready to make clean the chocolate-covered hands and faces before me. Today was special, and I gave in to earlier requests for doughnuts, a treat that the kids had not tasted in probably over a year.
I unbuckled Hannah Grace and looked over at Caleb, already bouncing off of one foot and then the other. I began to regret my breakfast choice that morning, worried that mixing young children hopped-up on sugar with the elderly residents of a nursing home might not have been the best idea. As I lifted Chloe from her car seat and grabbed my purse, Hannah Grace skipped next to Caleb, and I took the opportunity to warn my kids about the behavior I expected:
“You guys cannot bounce around like that. You can have fun, but we have to stay calm. Some of the people here might not feel well, and they’re not going to want to watch kids who are acting all crazy.”
After about three attempts, all four of us finally connected hands, and we proceeded to walk, with a little less bouncing, down the small flight of concrete stairs to the front of the center. We walked quickly as the activity hour had already begun. We reached the front door, and I opened it while looking down at my three helpers, doing my best to usher them in and keep them from running straight back to the large room where we had played parachute last week.
But before I had even looked up, a woman blocked my way.
“Can I help you?”
“Well, we’re here to help with the activity today,” I said while looking around, suddenly noticing people working in the dark, a lack of residents sitting in the front waiting area like last week.
“We’re closed,” the lady politely, but intent on making this conversation quick, replied. “The roof caved in the other day, so we won’t be open until we get everything squared away.”
“Oh my goodness!” I replied, wondering if I should’ve noticed a missing roof as I walked up to the building, suddenly understanding why the phone just rang and rang the two times I tried to call earlier to prepare them for our visit. I felt silly, wondering how long the center had been closed.”Where did all the residents go?”
The woman explained that they had been moved to various facilities in the area, and then she checked to see if we had family staying at this center.
“Oh, no. We’re just here to help with the activity.”
“Well, thank you; we appreciate that. But just try calling to check when we’ve reopened.”
She wasn’t sure when that day would be, and I apologized for just walking in to the closed center.
I ushered the three kids back out the door and tried, once again, to create a chain of all our hands. However, Caleb wouldn’t join in. He walked ahead quickly, his shoulders hunched forward, his head hanging down.
“Caleb, are you okay?”
He wouldn’t answer, and I knew from his posture that he was crying.
“Sweetie, do you want to talk about what’s bothering you?” He could’ve just been disappointed that he wasn’t going to get to play parachute that morning, but I sensed he was feeling more than disappointment.
He grabbed the van’s door and began pulling on it, willing it to open so that he wouldn’t have to look at me.
“Okay, you don’t have to talk, but if you want to, let me know,” I told him as I unlocked the sliding door.
He hopped in the van and went back to his seat silently, and I watched as the back of his hand moved up to wipe his eyes.
I know my son, and I know he was worried. He heard that the roof caved in, and when my first thought was, “How did I miss that?” his first thought was, “Are the people okay?” I found out later from my husband, always quick to do an internet search, that all the residents were, in fact, okay; none were present in the dining area when the roof, undergoing a renovation, collapsed.
I started the van and pulled out of the space we had made and drove around the circle. I looked in the rearview mirror at Caleb, who didn’t want to talk, and we headed toward home. And as we drove, with little talking at first, my heart warmed. When God made Caleb, he made one special little boy.
Contemplating this week’s sermon on ‘Being the Church,’ and am grateful for the example found in my children. When was a time you witnessed a young child sharing the heart of God? Linking up today with Michelle.
And now I need your help. For the last couple of months, I have written a blog each Friday for ‘Journeys,’ the last few weeks being devoted to the fruits of the Spirit. I provided the opportunity for others to link their own posts, but there really wasn’t that much interest. The ‘Journeys’ topics have been good for me, and, while this blog is mine, it’s also yours! You all have been faithful readers and commenters, and I am interested to know what you’d like to read.
Before I eliminate the link-up all-together, would you be willing to link up on a less specific topic, perhaps just an open-ended God journey each week? Do you have another idea for a link-up? Or would you prefer to just read my take on ‘Journeys’ each week but not actually participate?
I appreciate your feedback. Feel free to give your opinion in the comments below or e-mail me at jennifer at matt dash davis dot com. Thank you!